The relationship between regulators and those they oversee is often strained.
Sometimes that tension is good.
It's healthy for companies and individuals to know someone is watching them and that they will be called out if they act unethically or fail to follow the law.
At the same time, it's important that all parties respect each other at least enough to work together.
Doing so helps ensure that rules are both strong and reasonable and that they are enforced properly.
That cooperation is especially important when it comes to safety.
While businesses do not like rules that force them to spend money they see as unnecessary, few companies care so little about their employees that they are unwilling to work toward improving safety.
Besides the obvious moral importance of keeping workers safe, on-the-job accidents also are bad for business.
One way regulators and industry can work together is through groups like the Mid-Continent Exploration and Production Safety Network, which is a partnership between the oil and natural gas industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The group was formed in 2008 with the goal of reducing fatalities and serious injuries in the oil and gas industry.
After a series of rig accidents in the first half of this year, OSHA in June asked the industry group for a safety stand-down at every rig site in the state. During the stand-downs, crews reviewed safety procedures and talked about the causes of accidents in the industry.
Seventy-one companies participated in the voluntary safety training. They identified and corrected 2,500 hazards and trained 9,800 workers, according to David Bates, OSHA's Oklahoma City area director.
“This is an example of how OSHA and the industry work well together,” Bates said at the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association annual meeting earlier this month.
An open dialogue between all parties also can help ensure rules make sense and accomplish their set goals.
Cooperation with regulators is essential for the industry, and it makes business sense, said Rand Phipps, chairman of the mid-continent association.
“OSHA doesn't need to be issuing rules and regulations in a vacuum,” he said.
“They need to know what's going on in the field and what things work and don't work.”